Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Wanderlust, Bookness, IWSG, and an Editing Giveaway

What's on your bucket list?

The last five months have flown by. I had a baby, celebrated half our family birthdays, survived the holidays, had surgery (yuck), took a 2.5 week road trip across the country, and FINALLY got the kids back on a routine that includes school.

Do you know what the best part of all that was? The 8 days spent in the car.

You laugh, but it's true. For 8 days I had no choice but to take it easy and talk with my family. For eight days I couldn't stress about cleaning the house, online obligations, holiday prep, school, or making meals.

Those were 8 days of heaven.

More than that, the views out the window were amazing and constantly changing. They reawakened a desire to get out and see the world, to get out and live. (I'm told this enhances your prowess as a writer anyway, so why not?)

That's about as much "Valentines" as you'll get out of me this month. ;)
One of my bucket list locations is Ireland. Have you ever wanted to see Ireland? Been to Ireland? After my relaxing trip, it was seriously tempting to schedule another getaway. It's not quite a reality with a 4 month old baby and toddler in the house, but one day soon. What could make a trip even better? If it was a WRITING RETREAT!

And guess what?

Ta da!


One of my editor buddies, Bethany Kaczmarek, will be teaching and editing at this July conference. (July 8-15) That would be reason enough for me to go...if I could get away from the babies. It's definitely an experience not to be missed. Registration is open, but will close as soon as the spots are filled. (And what better timing with tax returns coming in the door? I mean, is there a better investment for expanding your craft, AND having an AMAZING adventure?)

On a related note, how about the IWSG question for the month: What do you love about the genre you write in most often?

So, so many things, but mostly the ability to go somewhere completely unique without going anywhere. I'm totally an escapist through my reading/writing.

Huge thanks for hosting
Alex Cavanaugh
Stephen Tremp, Pat Garcia, 
Angela Wooldridge, Victoria Marie Lees, 
and Madeline Mora-Summonte!

Last month, S.A. Larsen shared MARKED BEAUTY along with two truths and one lie. Anyone who guessed was entered to win an AWESOME prize pack.

The game:



1. My nose has been broken twice.
2. I've been to Greece.
3. I've ridden on an elephant.

The lie: #2. 

She has the same problem I do: wanderlust.

And the winner is:

...DRUM ROLL...

Congrats, Dawn!

And now, because she's epic like that, Bethany kindly offered to give away a small editing package to promote the Ireland tour for one lucky reader. Meet Bethany:

Bethany Kaczmarek is the author of the contemporary romance novel, STRAINS OF SILENCE, as well as a fairy-tale/mythology mashup currently enticing publishers. A professional editor, Bethany is the founder of A Little Red Ink Editing Services, which she and her sister have run for four years. As an editor, she’s worked with best-selling and award-winning authors as well as beginners, and her clients have bestowed this title upon her: "The first chapter wizard." She is one of three ACFW Editor of the Year finalists, and is also Conference Awards Director for Realm Makers, where she reviews many of the best-loved speculative fiction novels each year. 

At heart, Bethany considers herself a sojourner. So far, she’s just explored Earth, but her love for adventure and old stories makes her yearn for a chance to wander in other realms. Which is why she’s stoked about wandering through a faerie forest in Ireland with other imaginative types.

Bethany moved to Wisconsin this summer, and she thought cheese would be the death of her in one of two ways: Either she'd eat it until her dairy allergy killed her, or she'd die from sorrow, watching her family eat all the cheese they wanted. But hope prevailed. She's allergic to the cow PROTEIN--the whey. And guess what everyone eats up there? Cheese CURDS. They are amazing, regular or deep fried, and her cheese-lovery is alive again. She is a happy girl.


Bethany. gave me two truths and one lie to test your "lie detector" skills. If you guess the lie, right or wrong, you will be entered to win full first chapter edit, up to 12 double-spaced, industry standard pages. (Open internationally.) DON'T HAVE A BLOGGER ACCOUNT WITH AN EMAIL ON THE PROFILE? No problem. LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN THE COMMENTS OR EMAIL IT TO crystal@crystal-collier.com WITH YOUR SCREEN ALIAS.

You have until Tuesday, March 6th at 2 p.m. EDT to guess. Be sure to come back for the answer on March 7th, 8 a.m. EDT.
TRUTH OR LIE

1. I have a significant fear of waxed mustaches. As in, I close my eyes and back away rather than deal with them.
2. I write best when I'm in a room that's between 45 and 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
3. I once put my sister's contact in her eye for her--with my spit.

So sleuths, which is the lie? Have you met Bethany? What's on your bucket list? If you could go on a tour/retreat anywhere in the world, where would you go?

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Best Books of 2017, IWSG, and Butterfly Love

How do you give back?

One thing I occasionally grow insecure about is whether or not I'm giving enough back to the writing community. They're such generous people and I feel beyond blessed to know/associate with so many of them. That's one reason why I strive to review every novel I read. This year, I managed to review or rate 80 books, and today I'm going to share the best of the best.





As per norm, you can read any of my full reviews on Goodreads, but these are quick, one-liners on my favs:

Angel, A.J. Weatherly: (YA Paranormal) This was like angels meets a spy thriller. Some action, twists, subterfuge, and lots of hope. I LOVED it. Seriously.

Dragon Slippers, Jessica Day George: (MG Fantasy) Definitely lighter than a young adult novel, but one I'm sad older readers miss out on. I found it endearing and highly enjoyable.

Traitor's Masque, Kenley Davidson: (Adult Fiction) I'm a sucker for fairy tale retellings, and this one featured an independent protagonist who won my heart. I found a new favorite author.

At First Blush, Beth Ellyn Summer: (YA Contemporary) I might not have loved this one as much if I hadn't lived in NYC, but this was a fascinating glimpse behind the scenes of the studio/marketing world. Loved it!

Just Breeze, Beverly Stowe McClure: (MG Contemporary) I LOVE this book. SUCH a cute one. Serious love. The protagonist is impossible not to adore.

Captivate, Vanessa Garden: (YA Sci-fi?) I expected this to be a mermaid book, but it was more of an Atlantis, underwater world. Seriously addicting.

Hidden Deep, Amy Patrick: (YA Fantasy) When I closed this book, I was happy. Welcome to a contemporary world that is suddenly not what it seems.

Emerge, Heather Sunseri: (YA Dystopian) The settings reminded me some of Under the Never Sky, which is definitely not a bad thing, but it was totally different. An engaging read.

Ocean of Dust, Graeme Ing: (MG Fantasy) I was reminded of the movie Shipwrecked, along with the video game Skies of Arkadia. It felt like a solid jaunt into a real world we've never had the privilege of discovering before.

Kaleidoscope, Mindy Hayes: (YA Paranormal) This is one of those addictive series.

Truth, Christina Benjamin: (MG Dystopian) This was an unconventional story that appealed to me because it was so different. In an island world where we meet a society of orphans, there is something magical and unexpected happening.

A Savage Ghost, Donna K. Weaver: (Clean Adult Romance) A FUN setting, a sweet romance, and an easy, quick read. What more could you ask for? A perfect beach read.

Cinderella and the Colonel, K.M. Shea: (Adult Fiction) Basically, if you love fairy tales, this is a lovely retelling, and one you are certain to enjoy.
Huge thanks for hosting
Alex Cavanaugh
Tyrean Martinson, Ellen @ The Cynical Sailor, 
Megan Morgan, Jennifer Lane, and Rachna Chhabria!
What was your favorite book of 2017?


My household is still utter insanity, but I've been aching to get back here, and there have been SO many fabulous new books releasing, including one I've been looking forward to for AGES. (Probably 6 years?) At any rate, not only do I get to enjoy it, one fabulous winner will get a copy all of their own too! Awesome, right? (And check out the pretty butterfly! Hello, butterfly!)


Uncovering hidden secrets can sometimes kill you . . . or worse, steal your soul.


Anastasia Tate has a secret. She can feel the emotions of others through their life energy auras. Not a welcome gift for a teenager. Especially when a sinister presence begins stalking her. 


Viktor Castle also has a secret. He’s tasked with protecting humanity yet cursed by an ancient evil to destroy it.


After Viktor saves Ana’s life, her abilities grow stronger. Drawn together, she senses Viktor has answers to lifelong questions. Only he shuns her at every turn, knowing he has saved her only to put her in more danger. As Ana struggles with her attraction to Viktor, he tries everything to bury his unexpected feelings for her. But they must find a middle ground. For only together can they combat the dark forces threatening both their lives . . . and their souls.


Buy your copy on Amazon.

Ready to meet the author?



As a little girl, S.A. Larsen believed her closet held secret passageways to magical worlds brimming with all sorts of creepy creatures – her favorite kind. Sheri never did find a ghoul or a goblin in her closet, only a half-eaten fluffernutter that her brother repurposed as a hockey puck. Her debut novel MOTLEY EDUCATION (Leap Books, 2016), is an international multiple award-winning, fantasy-adventure for middle grade readers; this is the first book in the series. She’s written young adult stories, community interest newspaper pieces, youth athlete magazine articles, and MARKED BEAUTY her debut YA romance novel released October 17, 2017 by Ellysian Press. She's also a @MixedUpFiles contributor, #MGLitchat co-host, and writing mentor for First Five Pages under Adventures in YA Publishing. When she’s not chasing her characters around a cemetery or antagonizing them with the wonders of young love, she can be found in the land of lobsters and snowy winters with her husband and four children (yes, they all play hockey), a playful pooch, and three kittens. 




#TheHorror Being vegan means consuming no (yup, as in zero) animal products, which includes cheese. Sooooo... S.A. now makes Parmesan cheese by using cashew peanuts. Sound weird? She thought so, too, before she tried it. Not bad...


S.A. gave me two truths and one lie to test your "lie detector" skills. If you guess the lie, right or wrong, you will be entered to win an ebook of MARKED BEAUTY. If you are the randomly selected winner and guessed correctly, you will also receive a Be The Marked Beauty You Are poster, magnet, tattoo, & signed bookmark. (Open internationally.) DON'T HAVE A BLOGGER ACCOUNT WITH AN EMAIL ON THE PROFILE? No problem. LEAVE YOUR EMAIL ADDRESS IN THE COMMENTS OR EMAIL IT TO crystal@crystal-collier.com WITH YOUR SCREEN ALIAS.


You have until Tuesday, February 6th at 2 p.m. EDT to guess. Be sure to come back for the answer on February 7th, 8 a.m. EDT.
TRUTH OR LIE

1. My nose has been broken twice.
2. I've been to Greece.
3. I've ridden on an elephant

So sleuths, which is the lie? Have you met S.A. Larsen? What was your favorite book of 2017? How do you give back in your professional field?